Manchester United vs Reading Recap
Manchester United Women opened their Women’s Super League account with a convincing win against Reading, despite a shaky start.
It was a groundbreaking event as the women’s match be televised live on Sky Sports in a new broadcasting deal for the 2021-2022 season.
Kirsty Hanson scored United’s opener in front of returning fans at the Leigh Sports Village just under the 40th minute, capitalising on Ella Toone’s pass before slotting the ball into the visitors’ bottom corner.
Ona Batlle doubled United’s lead in the second half, ensuring United’s victory and a positive start to Marc Skinner’s managerial career at United.
It was a big day for Hannah Blundell, Aoife Mannion, and Vilde Boe Risa — all summer signings — as they made their United debut.
Manchester United: Earps; Blundell, Thorisdottir, Mannion, Batlle; Zelem (c), Boe Risa (Russo 75), Staniforth (Groenen 66); Hanson, Toone (Thomas 66), Galton.
Subs not used: Baggaley, Ladd, Fuso, Smith, Turner, Jones.
Reading: Moloney; Bryson, Cooper, Evans, Woodham; Rowe, Peplow, Chaplen; Harding (c) (Jeon 71), Harries, Eikeland.
Subs not used: Stewart; Roberts, Rowe, Lister, Wild.
Reading had the first real chances in the match as Brooke Chaplen fired her shot over the crossbar. Blundell then stamped her presence on to the United team with a last-ditch effort to block Amalie Eikeland’s low strike.
United’s first real attempt at goal came near the half-hour mark. Lucy Staniforth’s cross curled from the right to find Leah Galton who, returning from injury for her first competitive appearance in 9 months, saw her shot go just over the bar.
It was a boost of confidence for United as they dominated possession, and within minutes the home team capitalised and scored their first goal of the season. Toone’s ball in found Hanson, who produced a clean first-time finish to beat the away keeper and give the home team the lead going into the half.
Reading were closer to equalising moments into the second half. Chaplin created another powerful strike, but the ball hit the crossbar before firing down into the goalmouth. Officials judged the ball to not cross the line, and United retained the lead.
Reading were made to pay not too long after as United doubled their lead. Batlle, United’s 2020-2021 Women’s Player of the Year, linked up with Toone for a quick one-two before scoring her first goal top bins to give the hosts some breathing room.
Martha Thomas was introduced as a second-half sub, injecting a boost of energy with her quick pace. She made an impressive debut, cutting in from the left to curl the ball just wide of the goalposts.
Reading’s Jeon Ga-eul nearly gave the visitors a lifeline on the other end, but her diving header glanced past goal.
The two goals were enough for Skinner to open his account with a win. United’s next match is against Leicester away.
United started the new season positively, and Skinner will no doubt be eager to extend this show throughout the season as United face Leicester next, in their first away match of the season.